The Zephyrs notched their first extra innings win of the season, scoring one run in the 10th inning to even the series against the Cubs. The win stops a three-game skid for New Orleans (2-4).
Newcomer Nick Whittgren, who was sent to New Orleans on Tuesday, got the win after pitching just one inning — striking out the side in the 10th — and he scored the game-winning run in the 10th. Vinny Rottino scored the tying run in the ninth, then drove in the winning run in the 10th.
The Zephyrs were held hitless through four innings and had just one hit in seven innings thanks to a strong outing by the Cubs’ Donn Roach. Cole Gillespie finally broke through with a double in the fifth inning but was left stranded.
The Cubs had five hits off of Zephyrs starter Justin Nicolino but left all runners stranded. They finally scored in the seventh inning when Adron Chambers singled, stole second and scored on a single by pinch hitter Kevin Brown. The Cubs added a run in the eighth when Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch, went to second on a hit-and-run grounder by Chris Valaika and scored on a single by Jonathan Mota.
But the Zephyrs battled back. Derek Deitrich put New Orleans on the scoreboard with a solo home run into the pool area in the eighth inning. The Zephyrs tied the game in the ninth. Austin Wates walked. Rottino, running for Wates, went to third on a double to left. The Cubs then intentionally walked Dietrich, loading the bases. Rottino tied the game at 2 when he scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Scott Sizemore.
In the bottom of the 10th, Jhonathan Solano led off with a double. Whittgren bunted, but Solano was thrown out at third. Lead-off man Jordany Valdespin then singled to right field and Wates walked. The Cubs then pulled everybody in, creating a five-man infield and a two-man outfield. But Rottino sent a fly ball to deep center field, which allowed Whittgren to score.
The Cubs’ No. 1 prospect, third baseman Bryant, went into Wednesday’s game hitting .381. He went 0-for-3 on Wednesday with one run scored. He walked in the first, was hit by a pitch in the eighth. He was one of Whittgren’s strike-out victims in the 10th.
After losing a pair of highly touted right-handers earlier in the week, the Zephyrs gained a pair Tuesday.
Right-handers Wittgren and Jake Esch were sent to New Orleans to replace Carter Capps and Jose Urena, who were called up to the Marlins.
Wittgren was a ninth-round draft pick out of Purdue in 2012. He comes to the Zephyrs with a career ERA of 2.01 in 156.2 innings.
Esch was selected in the 11th round of the 2011 draft out of the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has a 3.94 career ERA with 322.1 innings. Esch is scheduled to start the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader.
Capps, who is gaining fame in the league for his distinctive pitching style, was optioned back to the Zephyrs after the Marlins’ win Wednesday.
Play of the Day
Zephyrs right fielder Wates had the play of the day to rob Cubs leadoff batter John Andreoli of a hit. Andreoli sent a well-hit ball into right center field, but Wates covered the ground to make a diving catch.
Thanks to Tuesday’s rain-out, the Zephyrs and Cubs will play a pair of seven-inning contests in a doubleheader Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. It will also be college night, with free admission to any student with a valid college I.D. Fans holding tickets to Tuesday’s game can redeem them for a ticket to any Zephyrs game the remainder of the 2015 season. … The Zephyrs have had two of their six games go into extra innings.